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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

CHAPTER IX
SOCIAL  CHARACTERISTICS
WHAT is the Egyptian " nation" of whom Saad Pasha Zaghlul and the Party of Independence have claimed with so much emphasis to be the only recognised leaders ? That question can best be answered by analysing the peculiar structure of Egyptian society, which presents some important features without any parallel in other Oriental countries.
The population of Egypt has risen from six and a half to over thirteen millions during the British Occupation, in spite of epidemics and grossly unsanitary conditions and an appalling infantile mortality. It is already in some parts inconveniently dense, and geographical and economic conditions must in a not very remote future oppose almost insuperable obstacles to its indefinite expansion. It is on the whole remarkably homogeneous. There is not in Egypt the multitudinous congeries of races and creeds and castes and languages we have had to deal with in India, nor the tangle of different nationalities we find in Asia Minor and South-Eastern Europe. Practically all Egyptians speak the same Arabic tongue, which was imported by the followers of the Prophet when they swept over Egypt from Arabia thirteen centuries ago. The vast majority are Maho-medans, and the mediaeval teachings of El Azhar affect still to-day a far larger number of the rising generation amongst the small minority who receive any education
156e peculiar idiosyncrasies of the Western nations with which it has to reckon. There is even less reason to assume any co-operation between the leaders of Egyptian Nationalism and Muscovite Bolshevism, but the Bolshevist spirit is abroad all over the East as well as the West, and any violent political movement, however peaceful the vast majority of those engaged in it may desire to keep it, inevitably attracts a large number of hangers-on whose anarchist instincts are always against peace and order. These have supplied a contingent of irregular forces to Egyptian Nationalism which has brought much discredit upon it, but which its leadersd to find a responsive